King Felix will be the opening day starter. No surprise there, nor should it be a surprise that the second and third starters will be Hisashi Iwakuma and Joel Saunders, though who is second and third is a toss up. Fourth and fith starters should be, if what I have been hearing is true, are Erasmo Ramirez and non roster veteran Jon Garland, attmpting a comeback from shoulder surgery. He has looked quite good, impressing the Mariner braintrust (this could be an oxymoron). The M’s like three veterans to start the season, while keeping their eyes on the young guns, all of whom are nearly ready.
What this does is cause a shakeup. Garland must be added to to the 40 man roster if he makes the team, so somebody has to go. It could be a minor leaguer, or, if he does not get untracked, Hector Noesi, who is getting hit like a batting practice pitcher, could be gone. Jeremy Bonderman, another non-roster invitee attempting a comeback after a two year hiatus most likely will be released.
That leaves the young guns, Danny Hultzen, Brandon Mauer, Jimmy Paxton, and Taijaun Walker heading to the minors. I expect at least three to start for AAA Tacoma, possibly Walker going to AA to start the season.
That leaves Blake Beavan. He could be the long man in the bullpen, or he could be sent down to Tacoma. In order for him to make the starting five, either Garland or Ramirez must falter and Beavan gets hot.
If the M’s are not in the hunt come July, and one or two of the young guns are doing well, expect Garland to be traded. But that is a long way off, so let us not count our rosin bags this early. The crew of the good ship Mariner may just be in the hunt come July.